Roar youngsters prove it’s time for Champions


They are the Roar’s Generation Next but suddenly their time is now.

Six of the 18 players in the Brisbane squad in South Korea for tomorrow night’s AFC Champions League showdown with Suwon Samsung FC are from the club’s youth development program.

Three of them were playing in the club’s Young Roar youth team as recently as two months ago.

James Donachie and Corey Brown, 21, Fraser Chalmers, 20, and teenagers Brandon Borrello, Devante Clut, both 19, and Shannon Brady, 18, are undoubtedly the bright future of the club.

Amazingly, when the Roar stood up just 10 years ago as a foundation member of the then new Hyundai A-League, these six hopefuls were still chomping on quartered oranges at half-time of the weekly Saturday morning junior football melee at their local clubs.

Tomorrow they will be showcased in the most pivotal game yet in Group G of the Asian Football Confederation’s prestigious intercontinental club competition.

The Roar has never travelled with so many youngsters in its squad, let alone for a game against a club rated as a football powerhouse in South Korea.

Adding further importance to the clash, Suwon and the Roar are locked on four points each, behind runaway group leaders Beijing Guoan (nine points), in the battle to finish in the top two after the Group Stage round-robin and advance to the knock-out Round of 16.

Roar Head Coach Frans Thijssen has described tomorrow night’s match, in Suwon’s 43,000-capacity “Big Bird” Stadium, as his side’s toughest so far in the competition after an injury-time 1-0 loss to Beijing Guoan, a 1-0 away win to Japan’s Urawa and the come-from-behind 3-3 draw with Suwon, after the Roar led 2-0, at Robina Stadium three weeks ago.

And Thijssen says he will have no hesitation turning to the youngsters in either his as-yet-undisclosed starting XI or off the bench tomorrow night.

“All these young players have proven in matches or in training that they can do the job necessary for us,” Thijssen said.

“It is very pleasing we have so many young players coming through, it creates pressure for positions in our starting side.”

Chalmers, a 191cm goalkeeper, is the only one of the six yet to play any minutes in the Roar senior side.

He has been on the bench for the last three weeks in the Hyundai A-League and Champions League and will be the cover again for regular custodian Jamie Young as Michael Theo recovers from a serious quad tear.

Chalmers was a late inclusion in the Roar squad to travel to South Korea on Sunday afternoon after Theo was ruled out over concerns he was still bothered by the injury.

Centre back Donachie, who like Brown is also an Olyroo, said he was proud to be part of what is looming as a golden generation of new young players for the Roar.

“We all grew up together playing in the Roar youth team and wanting to be professional footballers and now we are living that dream,” Donachie said.

“It’s great that there are so many of us now pushing for inclusion in the senior squad and there are still others players coming through the youth program who will be knocking on the door by next season.

“It’s a very exciting time to be a young player at the club right now with A-League, Champions League and rep football. I’m enjoying every minute.”

The Roar were scheduled to train at tomorrow’s match venue this afternoon in a one-hour closed session.

Curiously, Suwon chose to forego their closed session at the stadium choosing instead to train at their club headquarters about 30 minutes away.

A club spokesman said because the Bluewings had eight games scheduled for April, their Head Coach Seo Jung Won had cancelled the stadium session to cut down some of the travelling time for his players.

By contrast, the Roar flew 15 hours to get to Suwon and tomorrow night’s game will be the first of six games they will play in the next 17 days at venues including Suncorp Stadium, Adelaide’s Coopers Stadium and Beijing’s Workers Stadium.

Kick-off for tomorrow’s match is 8.30pm Brisbane time. The game will be telecast live on Fox Sports 4 (Channel 505).